Water, water, everywhere (with limited drinkability)

Hands cradle the EarthThe ice is gone from my favorite paddling pond. There’s a saying from somewhere in my past that 75 percent of Earth is covered with water. Clearly, the saying goes, God intended for man to spend thrice the time fishing as working. It’s probably closer to 70 percent, but the point is well made.

About 97 percent of the planet’s water is ocean saltwater. Of the three percent that is freshwater, nearly three-quarters is trapped in polar ice and glaciers, leaving about two percent drinkable.

A third of what remains is groundwater, and about one percent is high latitude permafrost – ground that stays frozen year round. Or did.

The Great Lakes, on the north U.S. border, contain about 20 percent of the world’s freshwater. Another 20 percent is held in Lake Baikal, in eastern Russia. At an estimated 25 million years old, about 400 miles long and more than 5,000 feet deep, it is the planet’s single largest freshwater reservoir.

Our home planet gets official recognition next week. Wednesday is Earth Day, the 45th anniversary of the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970. In Adams County, the occasion will be loosely marked with the third annual edition of an event one of its organizers called “a combination Woodstock and Sierra Club.”

I do not usually promote specific events in this space, but I write about the environment, and this one certainly is that.

“It started with a couple of us guys talking one afternoon at Tipton’s Grill (in Gettysburg),”  Stephen Zimmerman, owner of Zimmerman’s Azalea Gardens and Landscaping, said Wednesday. The guys thought there should be “one event per year to inspire and foster environmental stewardship.”

The result was the Gettysburg Green Gathering, a public festival featuring five area bands, food, and environment-related displays and demonstrations by area businesses and government agencies.

A partial list of features includes five workshops to cover subjects such as geothermal energy, bee keeping and organic farming; the Gettysburg Dog Walker will provide ideas for creating a pet-friendly environment at home; and artist Tom Rooney is expected to create a painting that later a lucky person will win. The Adams County Farmers Markets will be on hand, as will the Adams County Arts Council, the latter with winning entries in county-wide school recycling art competitions.

Although the Saturday event will be free, a donation is being asked. Zimmerman said the Gettysburg Green Gathering is well on it’s way to becoming an official non-profit organization, and is working to establish a scholarship to assist Adams County students pursuing higher education in environmental studies.

‘We hope people will come out to hear the music, (and) educate the children about environmental stewardship, taking care of the earth,” Zimmerman told me.

The numbers are not perfect. Ice caps are rapidly melting, dumping formerly frozen fresh water into the oceans, and opening previously hidden shipping passages through the Arctic. Proof that Earth’s oceans circulate may be seen in periodic stories of flotsam and jetsam from Fukushima, Japan washing ashore in Seattle, Washington.

Meanwhile, Royal Dutch Shell, one of the largest fossil fuel producers in the world, is making plans to drill in the newly exposed Arctic waters. I submit there are smarter ways to ensure our grandkids have a clean, safe place to live. The GGG could be a place to learn some of them.

The event will take place Saturday, April 25, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Adams County Agricultural and Natural Resources Center, on Old Harrisburg Road across from the Weis Markets store. The festival will be rain or shine, with space to move inside if the weatherman fails to keep outdoors dry and warm. Food and drink will be available.

For more information, visit Gettysburg Green Gathering on Facebook, or at www.gettysburggreengathering.com.

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